Seated in a beautiful Italian restaurant overlooking the Pacific in San Diego, California, the Vice President of Zingo [company name changed] suggested that I might like to become a double agent - a spy for his California based arm of Zingo in the Basingstoke office, where I was in the role of European Technical Support Manager.
Times were difficult in the Basingstoke and San Diego offices of Zingo. Products designed and built in California were vital to our customer base in Europe (and to the survival of the European office), but the California office was overstretched and hadn't got the resources to service all the domestic and international markets. I had arrived in San Diego on the previous Sunday, with an instruction from my boss, the international Vice President (based in Basingstoke) to "sit in Dick's office until he gets the quote out for GGB". I had turned up unannounced at the front door on Monday morning, and wandered around to the designated room ... and started a furious row between the VPs. Everyone was fighting for their jobs!
At that lovely lunch, I declined Mick's offer to be his spy in Basingstoke and save my own head. I knew the writing was on the wall anyway and I also knew that if I turned against Peter in Basingstoke and for Mick in San Diego, it would just be a temporary reprieve. Mick wouldn't be able to trust me, I would have let down Peter - a good friend of mine - and I would have had to live with a decision that I felt would be immoral.
I sat the rest of that week in Dick's office. Well - sort of sat - I rolled up my shirt sleeves and knuckled down, helping him write the specification that was needed so desperately in Basingstoke. Dick's a pleasure to work with - a real gent who had made it very high up the US military on merit. In spite of what could have been a horrid week, the two of us did a great job getting the quote for spec for Europe AND the other things that were piled up for Dick out of the door.
Mick, the VP in California was so annoyed that he arranged for all European Technical Support to be done out of California and - oh what a co-incidence - my role disappeared.
Dick took early retirement a few months later.
I've completely lost track of Mick. I think
I know where Peter is; Peter Still enjoys the cut and thrust of working for US based techno-startups.
Dick and I became firm friends. When he and his wife came to the UK, I took a couple of weeks off and enjoyed showing them around. And we've stayed on numerous occasions with Dick and Dottie in their home in Coronado, and used their ski lodge for some great holidays. We still meet very occasionally when they take a holiday over here, or if I happen to be in California, we chew over old times, and we put it down as a life-building, enriching experience. (written 2006-02-02, updated 2006-06-09)
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